Musée des Beaux Arts, based on Pieter Brueghel's painting, The Fall of Icarus, which hangs in the art gallery of that name in Brussels, was written in September 1938 and first published in New Writing, Spring 1939, the same year in which Auden had published his “In Memory of WB Yeats” with its sobering lines:
....Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its saying…
The socialist hopes for a better world in the 1920s and 30s had manifestly collapsed with the Munich agreement on September 30th 1938, the defeat of the Spanish Republic on …
Early, Patrick. "Musée des Beaux Arts". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 April 2006
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=16889, accessed 21 February 2017.]